J.'s Reviews > Avengers Assemble, Vol. 1

Avengers Assemble, Vol. 1 by Kurt Busiek
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Dec 31, 11

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Read in December, 2011

In his best moments, Busiek really brings the Avengers into the real world. Unfortunately, in this volume, he's still caught up doing the same old thing. Remembering that this book was written near the end of the '90s, my absolute least favorite time for comics, I can give him some leeway--it's clear that he's trying to drag the avengers out of that time without doing anything so different as to alienate readers. The nice moments, as always, are not the comic book ones, but the personal ones. And Busiek does those amazingly well. His knowledge and joy of the backstory is apparent, as is his love for '70s-style comics. Unfortunately, he is pulling a lot of the bad cheesiness from the '70s to go with the good.

Major Plotlines:

Issues 1-3: The Morgan Conquest. Very average, but it does set up a lot of what comes after.

Issue 4: Choosing the Team. It's truly a blast seeing the core team choose who else gets to play. Also, Hawkeye's frustration plays very well.

Issue 5-6 & Annual. Cross-over with the Squadron Supreme. While I love the Squadron Supreme in their own universe, I never like their stories in the main chronology. A fairly standard comic-book mind-control good-guys-versus-good-guys plot.

Issue 7 (and others): Live Kree or Die Hard. A busy plotline, which would have been better served with less fighting and more discussion. (But since it crossed over multiple titles, everybody needs some fighting...I know, I know...) The Kree characters have a very valid beef with the avengers, but instead of diplomacy, there's mostly just punching. The court martial segment was quite good, though.

Issue 8-9: Moses Magnum, always a formidable opponent, returns. We get chaos and some infiltration. Again, way too much fighting. Also, there is a striking point where Jarvis is made to look like an absolute imbecile which is strikingly out of place.

Issue 10-11: The "Avengers Day" celebration was a surprisingly effective way to celebrate the (real-world) anniversary of the avengers within the comic book world. Showing what other characters think about all this fanfare is priceless. Then the Reaper returns, brings back some dead avengers, and lots of emotion ensues. (Emotion over punching--finally.) Although I'm not sure how the Reaper cam back or brought back other dead avengers, the Scarlet Witch / Wonder Man plot is certainly promising, especially the sinister moments where we see Vision peeking on.


Overall, I know Busiek has some great emotional writing in him, from having read Astro City, and it does start to peek out here, but it's still mostly obscured by tights and muscles. When good moments happen, though, they're totally worth it. I'll probably read the next volume and see if he starts to tap more and more into the emotion, or if his run falls prey to the silliness. From this volume, I would say it's sort of too-precariously perched between the two.

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